Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Morning Music Shuffle - Waiting for Cluckaphony Mix

Let's face it, there is no shortage of bands dancing around the "Americana", "Roots Rock", "Alt-Folk-Bluegrass-Country-Blues" sound. Hell, these days it's not too unusual to hear a banjo (or  more likely a banjitar) even on the "Hit" radio stations.  If you liked Mumford and Sons then you'll probably like the other half a dozen or so bands who sound just like them.  Right? So, here is the question: If there is this glut of Rootsy sounding bands being blasted out of radios and computers and MP3 players, does not mean any band falling however loosely into that area of music is redundant or superfluous? Well, keep in mind, this is coming from someone who writes a music blog for goodness sakes!  But, I think the answer is... wait what was the question?  Bottom line, the world can never get enough of creative and talented people following their passion down whatever path that leads them. So if a creative or talented group of musicians happen to play rootsy music (or punkish indie, or blues based rock or whatever) so be it and more power to them.

All that long windedness to say, I have had the good fortune to become acquainted with tons of amazingly talented people over the last couple of years, and it seems like at least half of them are releasing new music this year.  Today, I'm going to delve into two bands who are similar in a different way from each other (or maybe they are different in a similar way)... Join us after the Jump for a very special episode of Ear to the Ground's Morning Shuffle:

 At some point last year, I suggested via Twitter that The Imperial Rooster and Black Jake and the Carnies should do a show together sometime.  I later displayed my cleverly loose idea of geography to suggest that Nashville, Tennessee might be geographically equidistant between Espanola, New Mexico and Ypsilanti, Michigan - where the two bands or receptively based. I am not going to back off on the suggestion that a show featuring these two bands would be epically awesome, but the new releases have forced me to think deeper about the way these two bands intersect and diverge.

I'm going to avoid making this a compare and contrast exercise.  Mainly because I hated doing those in school, but as way of an introduction (he says several lines into the post), I will say, the two bands play raucous roots-based music with similar instrumentation, and the newest releases by the two bands even touch on similar themes of religion, death, sin and vice.  That their approaches to the subjects and the music is informed by the divergent beliefs, philosophies and geographic influences just makes the experience for this listener all the more interesting.

The Imperial Rooster from Espanola, New Mexico recently released Cluckaphony which is there album length follow-up to 2011's Decent People.  

Black Jake and the Carnies from Ypsilanti, Michigan literally just dropped their new EP called Watching, Waiting which is their follow-up to 2011's Sundry Mayhems.


For the fun of it, I shuffled these two albums together and listened to eleven of the 17 total tracks on my walk up the hill today.  I do have to say, I've listened to both records all the way through, I a highly recommend that experience.

Here are the tracks we heard today:

"Last Stop" - BJ and the C
"Ain't No Grave" - BJ and the C
"The Hoover Farm Exorcism" - TIR
"Soldier Boy Johnny" - TIR
"Polka De Nalgas" - TIR
"Pine Box Hell" - TIR
"Exit Me" - TIR
"Cigareets and Whusky and Wild Wild Women" - BJ and the C (a Red Ingle cover)
"The Savior" - TIR (a Crucifucks cover)
"Sinners, You Better Get Ready" - BJ and the C
"Santa Cruz" - TIR

It was a pretty incredible mix of songs. I especially enjoyed the contrst between the Carnies' "Ain't No Grave" and the Rooster's "Pine Box Hell" which took very different approaches to the subject of death.   The choice of covers was also illuminating.  Coincidently, The Crucifucks were a punk band from Michigan. Just saying.

Here's the deal, I have no idea if these two bands would even like each other personally, and to be honest, it doesn't matter to me.  They are two great bands who have released some amazing new music out into the world, and you should check them both out. Don't read too much into my dual review - it was fun and expedient and time has been in short supply lately.  Consider this a preview of both albums with a strong recommendation to grab this while you can.  

The Imperial Rooster are: Cootie LeRoux, Nat King Kong, Tennessee Skilly McGee, Khorn Syrup, Lulu Lotus Cornblossom, Dusty Vinyl

Black Jake and the Carnies are:  
Black Jake -- banjo, vocals
Joe Cooter -- bass
Gus -- fiddle
Andy Benes -- mandolin
Billy "The Kingpin" LaLonde -- drums/washboard, vocals
JC Miller -- accordion
Watch for both bands in your area some time soon (assuming you are somewhere where they are going to be).  

Ironically (fortuitously?) The Imperial Rooster are playing tonight (April 24, 2013) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Black Jake and the Carnies will be playing Music City Roots here in Nashville June 5.  

Do the "Like" thing on Facebook at:  The Imperial Rooster and Black Jake and the Carnies

 One last thing, please do not ask me how to pronounce Ypsilanti. 



  1. It's pronounced "ip-silanti". Great post...

    1. Thanks for the information. That makes sense now that you say it. And, I'm glad you liked the post.